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Published by Suzette Balucanag

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Published by: Suzette Balucanag on Sep 23, 2008
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.:On January 29, 1992, an information was filed against spouses Jesus andCristina Paloma and "William Doe", charging them with Serious IllegalDetention, committed as follows:"That on or about and within the period from August 14, 1991 to August 15,1991, in the City of Legazpi (sic), Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of thisHonorable Court, the above-named accused who are private individuals,conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another for a commonpurpose, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously detain RosarioB. Amorsolo, a female, in the following manner: When Rosario B. Amorsolowas in the house of accused Jesus G. Paloma accused "William Doe" tied herhands with wire on her back while accused Jesus G. Paloma covered her headwith a knapsack and told her that accused "William Doe" was a policemanand accused Cristina Amorsolo Paloma asked Rosario B. Amorsolo to sign adocument for the withdrawal of a civil case; and as a consequence thereof said Rosario B. Amorsolo was deprived of her liberty against her will for aperiod aforestated."CONTRARY TO LAW."When arraigned, Jesus and Cristina Paloma pleaded not guilty. "William Doe"is still at-large. The prosecution presented the following witnesses:ROSARIO BALDOZA AMORSOLO is the 71 year old victim and mother of accused Cristina Paloma. She testified that on August 13, 1991, at 8:00o'clock in the morning, she was in Banadero, Albay, when Jesus Paloma, herson-in-law, informed her that Cristina wanted to talk to her. She proceeded toher daughter's house in Cabangan, Legaspi City and arrived there at 10:00o'clock in the morning. Cristina was not home and Jesus asked her to wait.Cristina came home at 7:00 o'clock in the evening but went straight to herbedroom, followed by Jesus. When Jesus came out of the bedroom, he toldher that Cristina was tired and would talk to her in the morning. She passedthe night in their house. The following day, August 14, she woke up at 6:00a.m. and waited for her daughter. Jesus told her that Cristina momentarilywent out of the house but would be back soon. She went to the kitchen towash her face. Shortly, Jesus came and told her that a man from Banaderowas looking for her. She proceeded to the sala and saw a man she did notrecognize. Suddenly, the man stood up and tied her hands at her back. Jesusordered her not to move because the man was a police officer. Jesus thencovered her head with a knapsack. She felt weak and fell on the floor. Sheheard Jesus call his son Reynante. When Reynante did not answer, Jesushimself carried her inside the bedroom. Jesus pushed her on the bed and tiedher feet. She remained inside the bedroom until the next morning. When Jesus came back, she asked him to let her talk to Cristina. At 9:00 a.m., shefinally talked with Cristina. Cristina asked her to sign a document withdrawinga land case against them. She refused. She pleaded with them to let her go. Jesus agreed but warned her against telling her husband about the incident. They released her at 10:00 a.m. She reported the incident to the police andthen went to the Albay Provincial Hospital. She also filed a complaint with thebarangay court of Banadero.BIENVENIDO MIRASOL, 68 years old and a resident of Banadero, Albaytestified that he knew the victim, Rosario Amorsolo, because he was renting ahouse owned by her. On August 14, 1991, at about 7:00 a.m., he looked forher to pay his rent. Alfred Manila, his neighbor, told her that Mrs. Amorsolowas in the house of Jesus Paloma in Cabangan, Legaspi City. He went toCabangan to see her. Upon reaching the house of Jesus, he saw that the doorwas open. He entered the house and saw Mrs. Amorsolo on a kneelingposition with both hands tied at her back. He rushed out of the housebecause he was frightened. When he glanced back, he saw through thewindow Mrs. Amorsolo's head covered by a knapsack. He hurriedly took a jeepney and returned home. He did not report the matter to the police or thebarangay officials. On October 1, 1991, he executed an affidavit relating theincident before the Commission on Human Rights.DR. ROGELIO RIVERA testified that on August 15, 1991, he was working at theAlbay Provincial Hospital when he treated Rosario B. Amorsolo for someinjuries. He found a linear reddish discoloration on her right dorsal forearmwhich could have been caused by tying a piece of string or wire on it. He alsofound contusions on her left shoulder which could have been caused by a fistblow or any blunt object or instrument applied on the area. He did not findany mark of rope or string on Mrs. Amorsolo's wrists.
SALVACION ROGNAO, barangay secretary of Barangay 6, Banadero, LegazpiCity, testified that on August 15, 1991, she recorded a complaint (Exhibit "D")by Mrs. Rosario Amorsolo in the barangay blotter. Mrs. Amorsolo complainedthat she was mauled by her son-in-law Jesus Paloma. Upon Mrs. Amorsolo'sinstruction, she later amended the complaint to include that Mrs. Amorsolo'shand was tied behind her back and her head was covered by a knapsack. The defense presented the following witnesses: JESUS PALOMA testified that on August 14 and 15, 1991, he was supervisingthe construction of his house in Banadero, Legaspi City, although, at that time,he was still a resident of Cabangan, Legaspi City. He denied tying the handsof his mother-in-law and covering her head with a knapsack. He revealed thathis mother-in-law was fond of filing cases against him. The instant case is theseventh (7) one she filed against him. All the cases had been dismissed bythe courts.CRISTINA AMORSOLO testified that on August 14 and 15, 1991, she was not attheir house in Cabangan but in Legaspi City attending to her jewelry business.She denied detaining her mother at their house in Cabangan. She said hermother filed this case to pressure them to surrender a piece of land which isthe subject of litigation between them.REYNANTE PALOMA, the 24 year-old son of the accused spouses, testified thaton August 14 and 15, 1991, nothing unusual happened at their house.After the trial, the Regional Trial Court of Legaspi City, Fifth Judicial Region,Branch 5, presided by Judge Vladimir Brusola, convicted the two accused. Thedispositive portion of the decision reads:"WHEREFORE, premises considered, decision is hereby rendered finding theaccused JESUS PALOMA Y GUBATON, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of thecrime of Serious Illegal Detention as this is defined and penalized underArticle 267(4) of the Revised Penal Code and hereby sentences him to sufferthe penalty of imprisonment of 
Reclusion Perpetua
with all the accessorypenalties attached thereto. The accused CRISTINA AMORSOLO PALOMA ishereby found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as accessory to the crime of Serious Illegal Detention committed by her husband, co accused Jesus Palomay Gubaton and taking into consideration the Indeterminate Sentence Law, sheis hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of Two (2) years,Four (4) months and One (1) day of prision Correctional Medium period as theminimum to Eight (8) years and One day of 
Prision Mayo
Medium period asthe maximum. Both accused are hereby ordered to pay jointly and severallythe offended party Rosario Amorsolo y Baldoza, the amount of P50,000.00 asmoral damages, P20,000.00 as exemplary damages and to pay the costs."SO ORDERED."Hence, this appeal, where the appellants contend that:"I THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE EVIDENCE OF THEPROSECUTION HAS SUFFICIENTLY ESTABLISHED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT THE GUILT OF ACCUSED JESUS PALOMA Y GUBATON AS PRINCIPAL IN THECRIME OF SERIOUS ILLEGAL DETENTION DEFINED AND PENALIZED UNDERARTICLE 267 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE AND THAT THE ACCUSED CRISTINAAMORSOLO PALOMA GUILTY AS ACCESSORY THERETO.II THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT ALIBI BEING A WEAK DEFENSE ISNOT AVAILABLE FOR THE ACCUSED TO PROVE THAT HE WAS NOT AT THEPLACE OF THE INCIDENT BUT HE MUST ALSO PROVE THAT IT WAS PHYSICALLYIMPOSSSIBLE FOR HIM TO BE AT THE PLACE OF THE INCIDENT AT THE TIME ITHAPPENED.III THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT JESUS PALOMA DETAINEDILLEGALLY THE OFFENDED PARTY AND THAT THIS WAS KNOWN TO CRISTINA - THE VERY DAUGHTER OF COMPLAINANT ROSARIO.IV THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE COMPLAINANT IS ENTITLED TO MORAL DAMAGES AND IN AWARDING EXEMPLARY DAMAGES."We find merit in the appeal.Under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, serious illegal detention iscommitted when the following elements of the crime are present: (1) that theoffender is a private individual; (2) that he kidnaps or detains another, or inany other manner deprives the latter of his liberty; (3) that the act of detention or kidnapping must be illegal; and (4) in the commission of theoffense, any of the following circumstances is present: (a) that the kidnappingor detention lasts for more than 5 days; or (b) that it is committed simulatingpublic authority; or (c) that any serious physical injuries are inflicted upon theperson kidnapped or detained or threats to kill him are made; or (d) that theperson kidnapped or detained is a minor, female, or a public officer.
We hold that the lower court erred in finding that the prosecution evidenceproved these elements of the crime of serious illegal detention. The testimony of Mrs. Amorsolo, the victim herself, is not credible. Her motiveis suspect. Even before the filing of the case at bar, the relationship betweenMrs. Amorsolo and the appellant spouses has already been strained by adispute involving a piece of land. The records likewise show that Mrs.Amorsolo filed a complaint before the barangay of Banadero against JesusPaloma on July 16, 1991 which was recorded as follows:"July 16/91 Brgy. Case No. 020-91"Mrs. Amorsolo, Rosario- complainant"Detail of Complaint"Rosario Amorsolo, 71 yrs., married, a resident of La Purisima, Cam. Sur, whoowns a lot at Banadero, Brgy. #6, Leg. City reported Jesus Paloma, his son-in-law, a resident of Brgy. #18, Cabangan, Leg. City constructed a house in thelot of her husband, Federico Amorsolo, inspite of the fact that consent was notgiven to him due to said lot had a case."Sgd. Rosario B. Amorsolo".A month later or on August 15, 1991, she filed another complaint before thebarangay of Banadero alleging she was mauled by Jesus Paloma, to wit:"August 15/91 Brgy. Case No. 021-91"Mrs. Rosario Amorsolo-complainant"Complaint 7:00 a.m."At on or about 12:00 o'clock noon, Rosario Amorsolo, 71 yrs. married, aresident of La Purisima, Cam. Sur, presently residing at Banadero, Leg. City(c/o Mrs. Alfredo Manila) reported that on Aug. 13/91, she was mauled by hisson-in-law (Jesus Paloma) which resulted to her injuries."Sgd. Rosario B. Amorsolo".On the same date, August 15, 1991, she reiterated her complaint before theLegaspi City police station that she was mauled by accused Jesus Paloma, towit:"1245H- PHYSICAL INJURIESRosario Amorsolo Y (sic) Baldosa, 71 years old, married of La Purisima, Nabua,Camarines Sur, presently residing at banadero (sic) Albay District, Legaspi Cityc/o Mr. Alfredo Manila reported that last 13 August 1991 she was mauled byone Jesus Paloma which resulted to her injuries. Complainant was advised tosubmit for medical treatment at Albay Provincial Hospital."We hold that these events show that the serious illegal detention case againstappellants was merely fabricated by Mrs. Amorsolo. We note that both thepolice and barangay blotters reflected her complaint that August 15, 1991 isthe date when she was allegedly mauled. She then charged appellants withthe crime of serious illegal detention. To establish her charge, she caused thealteration of her August 15, 1991 complaint in the barangay blotter to read asfollows:"August 15/91 Brgy. Case No. 021-91"2:00 p.m."Mrs. Rosario Amorsolo-complainant"Complaint 7:00 a.m."At on or about 12:00 o'clock noon Rosario Amorsolo, 71 yrs. married, aresident of La Purisima, Cam. Sur, presently residing at Banadero, Leg. City(c/o Mrs. Alfredo Manila) reported that on Aug. 13/91, she was tight of a wireon her hand (sic) (inserted between lines) mauled by his son-in-law (JesusPaloma) which resulted to her injuries.Sgd. Rosario B. Amorsolo"Irratum: (sic)And her face was covered by a knapsack and his (sic) shoulders wereswollen."(Amendments emphasized)Nonetheless, she failed to make similar corrections in her August 15, 1991complaint to the police as reflected in the police blotter. Consequently, whilethe barangay blotter stated that her hands were tied with a wire and her headwas covered by a knapsack, the police blotter merely showed that she wasmauled by appellant Jesus Paloma. Thus, there is reason to believe that thecharge of serious illegal detention was a mere afterthought. This is not all. Mrs. Amorsolo's unamended complaint before the barangayappears to have been executed on August 15, at 7 a.m. Yet, she testified asfollows:ATTY. BERNALES:

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